"I assume everybody thinks they're a top-five quarterback. I mean, I think I'm the best. I don't think I'm top five, I think I'm the best. I don't think I'd be very successful at my job if I didn't feel that way. I mean, c'mon? That's not really too tough of a question." -- Joe Flacco
This is what I meant a couple of weeks ago when I talked about there not being much news in the NFL before draft day in two weeks. The fact that Joe Flacco is a story because of a local interview that has turned into a circus that will follow the Ravens all season is one of the things that is wrong with the constant need for all things NFL. Joe Flacco is not a bad player; by no stretch of the imagination do I think he’s not a good quarterback. But best in the league? Joe, I'd take both the Manning brothers, Brees, Brady and Rodgers before I'd even think of Flacco. Then there's Rothlisberger, Rivers, Vick and Romo that we have to talk about. Then, maybe you throw Flacco into the conversation with Ryan, Palmer and Stafford. Now, there are some other good young quarterbacks in the league, however none of the remaining starting QBs have done enough in their careers to be mentioned in this article.
You have to have more than a few good seasons to be considered one of the best in the league. You also have to have more than gaudy numbers. As the NFL goes from a run-first league to a pass-first league, it's going to relatively easy for a quarterback that takes all of his teams snaps to put up good looking numbers, but greatness is defined by the intangibles. It's defined by being able to put your team on your back in a game you're not supposed to win and take them to victory. It's about being able to answer when your defense has let you down after you've just given your team the lead for the first time all day and it's late in the fourth quarter. It's about knowing that no matter the situation your team believes that because they have you under center that you have a chance to win any game. Being the best quarterback in the league has nothing to do with numbers and everything to do with proving yourself under the most intense pressures imaginable. Joe Flacco has not garnered that respect yet. His own team doesn't even believe in him, so nothing he says in April is going to make me believe in him either.
A lot of people will try to compare this to the Eli Manning controversy from last year when he was asked if he was considered an elite quarterback and then he went out and had the best season of his career and led his team to the Super Bowl. Joe Flacco is no Eli Manning. Eli Manning has already won the respect of his locker room however didn't receive the respect he deserved from the rest of the league because of his All-World brother. Eli was already one of the best quarterbacks in the league; however he always had to play in the shadow of his big brother. Eli had already won a Super Bowl, been to the Pro Bowl and had improved over each of his first seven seasons. He had proved on the field that he was a great quarterback and should have never had to answer that question; Joe Flacco on the other hand has to win over the guys in his own locker room before he can convince the rest of the world that he belongs at the top of that elite list.